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Flexible hybrid electronics is a new way to manufacture electronics that brings together digital additive manufacturing with traditional electronic components. Examples of these technologies include wearable devices that monitor health as well as communication and sensor platforms that enable Soldier authentication to a network led by the Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center, known as C5ISR. 

They may also help monitor the structural health of roads, bridges and buildings and even allow researchers to gain a substantial foothold in soft robotics.

Prototype flexible screens will soon show the way for future device interactions and capabilities. The US Department of Defense will continue investing in flexible technology. 

The NextFlex Manufacturing Innovation Institute will aid DOD’s mission to apply flexible hybrid electronics through the commercialization of prototype technologies developed by the Army. The Institute entered its second cooperative agreement with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. 

Examples of flexible electronics projects include the flexible screen X-ray imager, a lightweight, portable digital detector array for inspection that allows technicians to scan and examine the contents of suspected improvised explosive devices without touching them. 

It can withstand extreme battlefield conditions that commercial off-the-shelf systems often cannot handle. In addition, the flexible X-ray imagers only weigh a few pounds, whereas conventional x-ray panels are typically too heavy for warfighters to carry onto the field with ease, according to dvidshub.net.

Another notable example of a flexible hybrid electronic system currently under transition in this agreement is a Soldier token authentication device that warfighters would wear to authenticate themselves to the Army network. This project, led by the CCDC- C5ISR Center, directly impacts the Soldier Lethality and Network Army modernization priorities.

Both the flexible X-ray imager and the authentication device represent only two out more than 60 DOD projects currently secured through the NextFlex cooperative agreement.